The best Dota 2 heroes to play in ranked in 2021

These Dota 2 heroes are reliable picks to win MMR

A centaur readies himself for battle in Dota 2

Want to know the best Dota 2 heroes you should be picking in ranked mode? The wilds of Dota 2’s ranked mode is a tough place to spend your time, and nothing feels worse than sinking hours of your valuable time only to emerge with less MMR than you started off with.

There are several factors that contribute to the result of each ranked game – one of the most crucial is the draft. Games can be won and lost on draft alone, and so to give yourself the best chance of winning, you should carefully consider your hero pick. There are certain heroes that are particularly strong in the current meta, but it’s not enough just to pick meta heroes; you have to know when and why these heroes are good.

That’s where we come in. We’ve put together a list of the best Dota 2 heroes for each position, alongside a few alternatives. These are heroes that are particularly strong, and effective in a wide variety of scenarios, but we recommend learning three or four heroes for your chosen role.

The best Dota 2 heroes are:

We’ve picked these heroes based on the meta developed around the latest patch, but if you want more information on how to play a hero or what items to pick up alongside it, read on. It’s worth it, we promise.

A bearded man with a yellow eye on his chest stands in front of a fiery inferno

Position 5 – Warlock

Abilities

  • Fatal Bonds (Q): Binds several enemy units together, causing a percentage of the damage dealt to one of them to be felt by the others.
  • Shadow Word (W): Warlock whispers an incantation, healing a friendly unit or damaging an enemy unit over time.
  • Upheaval (E): A powerful slowing current that grows stronger as it’s channeled.
  • Chaotic Offering (R): Summons a golem from the depths, stunning enemies for one second.

Warlock has exceptional teamfight ability, and a formidable Aghanim’s Shard that upgrades his W to apply to all units in a 450 unit radius; it also grants a 10% movement speed bonus to allies, and slows enemies by 10%.

In the lane, Warlock’s job is to stand behind the carry and try to harass the enemy, and heal their safelaner. If you’re laning with someone who can’t do much at level one, but has a strong level two or three – like Juggernaut or Lifestealer – skill Fatal Bonds at level one to shove the lane, so you can get level two before the enemy; then you can pull and hopefully secure level three.

This is usually what you want to do, but you should pay attention to who you’re laning with and against; for example, Legion can purge the bonds, and your safelane Spectre wants heals. You don’t have damaging spells to use in the lane; your moment of glory comes later, when you reach level six, and skill your ultimate.

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Teamfights are pretty simple for Warlock; drop a big rock (Chaotic Offering) on their heads. Boom. Use Fatal Bonds quickly after you’ve cast the ultimate and the rock is on its glorious descent. Remember, the stun goes through BKB and spell immunity. Then cast your heal, and begin to channel Upheaval; micro your crumbly golem pal while the upheaval is going. If your golem is still alive after the fight is over, shove lanes to tower with it and then kill neutrals.

You don’t typically want to start a fight by dropping rock; instead, the best case scenario is casting it as soon as the other team commits to the fight. For example, if the enemy Beastmaster roars someone, then their allies join and start hitting them, you can drop your golem and buy your roared ally some time. You should also use it to cancel powerful channeled abilities like Enigma’s Black Hole.

Item-wise, we recommend Arcane Boots, Glimmer Cape, Aether Lens, then Aghanim’s Shard as soon as it is available. After this, go for the Aghanim’s Scepter.

If you’re looking for alternative heroes to play as hard support, we recommend Grimstroke (especially if you’re playing in a stack), Snapfire, and Jakiro.

An elvish looking character wearing armour and a bandana creeps forward

Position 4 – Bounty Hunter

Abilities

  • Shuriken Toss (Q): Hurls a deadly shuriken at an enemy unit, dealing damage and mini-stunning the target. The shuriken will bounce to any tracked units who are within a 1200 radius of each other.
  • Jinada (W): Bounty Hunter plans his next hit, dealing bonus damage and stealing some unreliable gold.
  • Shadow Walk (E): Bounty Hunter becomes invisible and gains the ability to move through other units until he attacks or uses an ability.
  • Track (R): Tracks an enemy hero, granting True Sight of the target, and information on how much gold it is carrying.

Bounty Hunter is the perfect hero for running around and being a nuisance. Like Warlock, Bounty Hunter’s Aghanim’s Shard is what makes him such a great pick in the current patch. It makes Shadow Walk give you 35% damage reduction while you’re invisible, and grants a stun when attacking out of invisibility. This means you can run up hills with no fear, and punish your enemies’ lack of coordination; if they commit to attacking you as soon as they see you, you’ll make them regret it.

In lane, the rule is: hit the enemies with Jinada off cooldown, weave in and out of the lane, preventing pulls and ruining the opposing support’s day, like the little pest you are. You’ll occasionally be able to do more in the way of harassment, but this really depends on how hard you win the lane and who you’re laning with.

Typically, you start with boots and skill Jinada, and if you’re feeling really fancy, you can pull the first enemy creep wave through the jungle toward your tower. Depending on the situation, it’s sometimes worth it to skill Shadow Walk first, and use it to get into position to steal the enemies’ bounty runes. After yoinking it from under their nose, simply Shadow Walk away and run to your lane.

Be careful of enemy vision; they will invariably put a sentry down in lane, so try to deward it if it’s safe to do so. Don’t be afraid to play behind enemy lines – you’re adept at killing couriers; walking around between enemy towers and co-ordinating with your team to wrap around and collapse on foes.

For items, we recommend Tranquil or Phase Boots, Orb of Corrosion and Solar Crest; Urn of Shadows on its own is strong, which you can upgrade into Spirit Vessel if it counters an enemy. Drums of Endurance is also a solid choice.

Other position fours that we recommend are Dark Willow for her strong teamfight, along with Tiny and Tusk.

A centaur holds a large axe while charging forward on tundra

Position 3 – Centaur Warrunner

Abilities

  • Hoof Stomp (Q): Slams the ground, stunning and damaging nearby enemy units.
  • Double Edge (W): Centaur strikes a mighty blow at melee range, damaging both himself and a small area around the target. Deals extra damage based on your strength.
  • Retaliate (E): Centaur counters all attacks, dealing damage back to the attacker.
  • Stampede (R): Centaur leads all allies into a vicious charge causing them to move through units at max speed and stop any enemy units they trample.

Centaur Warrunner is a big beefy boy who can become nigh unkillable. He wants to play in lane – no jungle for you – and be aggressive, pushing lanes and forcing them to respond to you. You’ll facilitate plays with your ult, encouraging your team to play with you.

In lane, skill your Hoof Stomp first, then put two points in Retaliate, followed by then a point in Double Edge. When you get your ultimate, use it to disengage from fights if things look bad and you want to retreat or regroup – for example, if there’s an enemy Phoenix egg that looks like it could turn rotten. Alternatively, you can use it as a gap closer.

If everything is proceeding ideally, you’ll get Vanguard first, then Hood of Defiance, around 7 – 12 minutes, then start saving for your Blink Dagger; you want Blink in time for the mid game. If things aren’t going smoothly, you’re struggling in lane, and have no farm, focus on getting your Blink before Hood and make yourself useful with your Stampede and Hoof Stomp.

After your Blink Dagger, buy utility for your team, like Crimson Guard or Pipe of Insight. Definitely buy your Aghs Shard at 20 mins; it’s a big ‘un. It causes Double Edge to increase Centaur’s strength by 15% per hit for 15 seconds, and slow enemies by 25% for two seconds. Since Double Edge is on a four second cooldown, the slow will get annoying quickly.

Alternatives to Centaur are Dragon Knight and Razor. Razor dominates in lane but doesn’t have much teamfight or control, so pick him when you have a position 4 who can compensate for this, like Nyx. Dragon Knight is also good; he has a great stun, but lacks high damage output.

An amphibian with a muscular body and pink tipped wings flies high

Position 2 – Puck

Abilities

  • Illusory Orb (Q): Puck launches a magic orb that floats in a straight path, damaging enemy units along the way. At any point, Puck may teleport to the orb’s location using Ethereal Jaunt.
  • Waning Rift (W): Puck teleports to the target location and releases a burst of faerie dust that deals damage and silences enemy units nearby.
  • Phase Shift (E): Puck briefly shifts into another dimension where it is immune from harm.
  • Ethereal Jaunt (D): Teleports Puck to a flying Illusory Orb.
  • Dream Coil (R): Creates a coil of volatile magic that latches onto enemy Heroes, stunning them for 6 seconds, damaging and leashing them. If the enemy hero stretches the coil by moving too far away, it snaps, stunning and dealing additional damage.

Rune control is very important in the current patch, and Puck excels at it. In lane, get a bottle, and make sure to use your Illusory Orb to secure the ranged creeps. The build for Puck is flexible; ideally you want a point in Phase Shift early, and you’ll max your Illusory Orb then max Waning Rift.

Once you’ve got your ultimate, you can rotate easily with it and kill a core in a side lane. You can also kill the enemy mid laner with it with the help of your supports, or solo if you get a good rune. Shove the lane around 15 seconds before the rune spawns so you can prepare to grab it. If you’re on the Radiant side, go for the top rune; Dire, head for the bottom rune – this way you can stack the small camp on the way and farm it later. We love efficiency.

Witchblade is an excellent item for you; following this, Boots of Travel is good for map pressure. Blink Dagger is heavily recommended; a Dagon is good if you need burst. If you’re against BKB carries – or mobile heroes in general – go for the Aghanim’s Scepter. Against silences and early Orchid buyers, you probably want Eul’s Scepter.

In the mid game, play with your team and catch people with your Dream Coil. Push lanes with your spells. You may want to buy the Aghs Shard in the late mid game; it’s not an early priority. For alternatives to Puck, we recommend Beastmaster, though he is very timing-centric, and you have to be efficient. Dawnbreaker is also a good choice – honestly, she’s a bit broken right now, so why not?

A muscular character with a horned bone mask lifts a scimitar above his head

Position 1 – Juggernaut

Abilities

  • Blade Fury (Q): Causes a bladestorm of destructive force around Juggernaut, rendering him immune to magic and dealing damage to nearby enemy units.
  • Healing Ward (W): Summons a Healing Ward which heals all nearby allied units, based on their max health.
  • Blade Dance (E): Gives Juggernaut a chance to deal critical damage on each attack.
  • Omnislash (R): Juggernaut leaps towards the target enemy units, and then slashes the target and other nearby enemy units at an increased attack rate. Juggernaut is invulnerable for the duration.

Yep – we recommend you spin to win. Juggernaut is a very safe pick; if you’re second phase picking, you can pick him pretty much any game. He’s not going to 1v5 given a perfect game but will do his job, no matter what kind of game you put him in, thanks to his good base attack time ensuring him a good laning stage.

Always skill Blade Fury first; after that, we recommend a point in your E, then another in Blade Fury, followed by a value point in your Healing Ward. Make sure you can micro the healing ward properly and don’t feed it the poor lil guy; keep it safe.

Play around your ultimate; it’s very strong. Between 10-20 mins, look to secure pickoffs wherever you can Omnislash and then go back to farming. Late game, at 25+ mins, use your ult to kill cores in a teamfight or to solo kill a core. If the enemy team doesn’t have anything to pierce spell immunity (which your Blade Fury gives you) you can play very aggressively and shove lanes all over the place, because you can always spin and teleport to safety.

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For items, get Battle Fury if things are going well, there’s not that much pressure on you, and you’ve had a free lane. This will let you farm super fast, but if you find yourself needing to join fights and want a bigger impact in these early fights, buy Maelstrom -it’s still good for farming.

After this, Sange & Yasha or Manta Style, then Aghanim’s Scepter to unlock that sweet, sweet Swiftslash ability. The shard is decent; most professionals tend to grab it around the 30 minute mark. There aren’t too many position one heroes that stand out as being super strong right now; Morphling is good, but don’t go near it unless you’re high MMR, lest you turn into a puddle.

Those are the best Dota 2 heroes to play in ranked matchmaking right now, or at least who we think are your best bet. If you’re serious about gaining MMR, we recommend you watch pro replays and make note of the situations in which these heroes are picked, and who they play the lanes depending on who they’re up against. Good luck, and have fun.

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